SARATOGA SPRINGS — Erykah Badu, Cassandra Wilson, Al Di Meola, Sheila E. and the Django Festival All-Stars are among the 20 acts set to perform at the 38th annual Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, June 27-28 at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The weekend event features two full days of music on two stages — in the amphitheater and at the gazebo, reserved for up-and-coming artists.
“The prestige of the Saratoga Jazz Festival allows us to recruit some of the biggest names on the jazz scene today,” said Danny Melnick, president of Absolutely Live Entertainment, the festival’s producer.
“Both jazz greats and up-and-coming talent look forward to playing here in Saratoga because of the intimacy of the venue, the loyalty of the fans, and the beauty of the SPAC grounds.”
The festival was founded in 1978 by jazz impresario George Wein and over the years has showcased a who’s who of jazz greats, including Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, B.B. King, Wayne Shorter and Ray Charles.
Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival
WHEN: Sat. June 27 and Sun. June 28
WHERE: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park
HOW MUCH: $85-$60 per day, $155-$110 for both. Kids 12 and under: $70-$45 per day, $125-$80 for both. Lawn seats $60, kids free
Buy: Starting March 24 at www.spac.org; starting May 15 at Route 50 box office or 584-9330
“At this year’s festival we bring our audiences a remarkable lineup — a blend of familiar favorites and debut artists, all jazz musicians of the greatest national and international acclaim,” said Marcia White, president and executive director of SPAC.
“For two days, as an annual kick-off to the festivities of summer, our guests make the SPAC grounds their home. They come to see friends they may only connect with once a year at our festival, to hear great music and to create lifelong memories.”
In addition to live, world-class jazz, the festival will include a fine arts and crafts fair, CD signings by the artists, a full-service bar in the Hall of Springs, Southern-style barbecue and other food vendors, all presented by Stella Artois, the lead sponsor of lawn events.
Festival attendees can bring their own food and beverages, as well as blankets, tents and lawn umbrellas.
Tickets for the festival range from $60-$85 per day, with discounts for two-day passes. Kids are free on the lawn with a paying adult. Online tickets (spac.org) are on sale now for SPAC members, and go on sale March 24 for the general public. Box office and phone sales begin May 15.
Saturday, June 27, Main Stage
• Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly. The band is known for honest, raw soul music, and Beverly for his smooth, soulful vocals.
• Cassandra Wilson celebrates Billie Holiday. Wilson, a two-time Grammy Award winner, is touring in support of her upcoming album commemorating Holiday in the 100th year of her birth.
• Al Di Meola Electric Band. Di Meola, a virtuoso jazz fusion guitarist, will play his original compositions influenced by flamenco and tango to Middle Eastern, Brazilian and African music.
• Christian McBride Big Band. Bassist McBride returns for his fifth Jazz Festival appearance with his band.
• Pedrito Martinez Group. A Cuban-born vocalist and percussionist, Martinez is a master of Afro-Cuban folkloric music.
• Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express. Over five decades, pianist Alexander has bridged the worlds of American jazz, popular song and the music of his native Jamaica.
• Theo Croker. A noted trumpet player and bandleader, Croker incorporates elements of salsa, rock, R&B, blues and hip-hop.
Saturday, Gazebo Stage
• Steve Wilson and Wilsonian’s Grain, featuring Orrin Evans, Ugonna Okegwo and Bill Stewart. Wilson and some of the most highly regarded artists in today’s jazz landscape make up this quartet.
• Theo Croker. (see above)
• Duchess, featuring Amy Cervini, Hilary Gardner & Melissa Stylianou. A new vocal trio perform jazz classics from their recently released album.
• Omer Avital Quartet. A composer, bassist and oud player, Avital is a leader in the world-music genre.
• Mike LeDonne Groover Quartet featuring Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein and Joe Farnsworth. Jazz, swing and soul led by Mike LeDonne on the Hammond B3 organ.
Sunday, June 28, Main Stage
• Erykah Badu. Neo-soul singer and winner of four Grammy awards, known for her smooth, passionate vocals.
• Sheila E. World-class drummer, percussionist and singer, known for her work with Ringo Starr, Marvin Gaye, Prince, Beyoncé, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie and Gloria Estefan and George Duke.
• Snarky Puppy. The Brooklyn-based fusion jazz group were 2014 Grammy winners.
• Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters. Lead by blues master guitarist Ronnie Earl.
• Heads of State, featuring Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams and Al Foster. An all-star quartet.
• Django Festival All-Stars. A “hot-swing” quintet of celebrated French jazz musicians Pierre Blanchard, Ludovic Beier and Doudou Cuillerier, with bassist Brian Torff and leader Samson Schmitt.
• Etienne Charles. The young trumpeter performs Caribbean-inspired jazz.
Sunday, Gazebo Stage
• Benny Green Trio with David Wong and Rodney Green. Composer Green’s swinging improvisations make him one of jazz’s most celebrated pianists.
• Etienne Charles. (see above)
• Kellylee Evans. Canadian vocalist Evans will perform her personalized adaptations of songs by hip-hop moguls Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Kanye West and others.
• Yosvany Terry Quartet featuring Osmany Paredes, Yunior Terry and Obed Calvaire. Afro-Cuban jazz and more.
• Sonny Knight & The Lakers. Soul and funk led by Knight’s exuberant, energetic vocals.